Karen Richards

Reporter

Karen Richards has been a volunteer reporter since the fall of 2012.

Ways To Connect

Flu season usually peaks in the second or third week of January, but not this year. Flu cases are still increasing in Oregon, and at a steep rate.

The strain of the flu affecting most people in Oregon this year is called H-3-N-2. Jason Davis is with Lane County Health and Human Services. He says there's been misunderstanding about this year's flu vaccine.

"The vaccine will actually work against H3N2, it's just not working as well as we'd like it to, but it's still working. So, it's still a really good idea to get the vaccine, and it's far better than not getting it."

thenewsguard.com

Some scientists say the Pacific Northwest is overdue for a massive earthquake. In the past couple weeks, Business Oregon awarded grants to schools and emergency services for seismic upgrades. But, the Governor and others want to substantially increase that investment.

Karen Richards

The expanded U of O Student Recreation Center had its grand opening today. It includes 110,000 square feet of new space, including pools, studios, and gyms.

On day one, the shiny, new high tech spaces are already bustling with activity. Kevin Marbury is the Director of Physical Education at the U of O. He says the construction has been smooth, on budget and on time.

Anna King

For twenty years, Senator Ron Wyden has held a town hall meeting in each of Oregon's 36 counties. He starts 2015 with stops in Deschutes, Lane and Benton counties, among others.

Constituents communicate with elected officials many ways:  e-mail, Twitter, Facebook. Before the 114th Congress convenes, Senator Wyden will speak to people face to face in seven Oregon counties. Hank Stern is Senator Wyden's Press Secretary. He says the town hall meetings are conversational:

Oregon Department of Justice

Oregon's Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has made a list of naughty and nice charities. During the last few days of giving for 2014, it's important to research non-profits, and know how their funds are spent.

Ellen Klem is with the Oregon Department of Justice. She says it's encouraging that no Oregon-based groups made the list of 20 worst charities this year:

Klem: "I think one of the tips we've been encouraging Oregonians to keep in mind this holiday season is to donate locally. It's a wonderful feeling to see your donation in action here in the state."

Oregon State Parks

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is peak whale-watching time at the Oregon Coast. The State Parks Department is ready with several programs for visitors.

(ambi: Dory from Finding Nemo)

People who don’t speak whale will find interpreters this week at the Oregon Coast. Hundreds of trained volunteers will staff 24 locations at just about every major lookout, helping people spot gray whales and learn about them. Brain Hoeh (HAY) is with the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center. He says this week is ideal for whale watching:

Angela Kellner / KLCC

The Springfield School District is seeking input on the new Hamlin Middle School. It’s been 20 years since the district replaced a middle school, and its education specifications need to be updated before starting the design process. The new middle school is scheduled to open in fall, 2017. Public forums take place Tuesday and Wednesday at two times and locations. For details, visit the Springfield Public Schools website here.

The forums are scheduled:

People text donations, they text votes to reality shows, now they can text a power outage. In time for winter weather, the Eugene Water and Electric Board has launched a new reporting service.

EWEB spokesman Joe Harwood says when their system was overloaded in February’s snowstorm, they started working on a solution. During that storm they also had to educate some younger customers who didn’t know they had to tell EWEB when their power was out:

The Eugene 4J School District has begun its search for a new superintendent. Dr. Sheldon Berman is leaving the job in June. As a first step, the school board wants to create a profile of the ideal candidate. Kerry Delf is the Communications Coordinator for the district:

Delf: “As with the last time we were seeking a new superintendent, the school board has hired an executive search firm to help conduct that process. This is a nationwide search. The school board will be looking at any local and regional candidates as well as anybody who applies from across the nation.”

Eugene 4J School District

The Eugene 4J School District and the YMCA appear to have found common ground this week in efforts to relocate the recreational facility. They’ve agreed to tentative terms for the “Y” to purchase land at 24th and Hilyard.

The proposal would give the Eugene Family YMCA the option to purchase the Roosevelt Middle School property for 2.85 million dollars. That’s nearly double the Y’s September offer of 1.5 million. Dave Perez, the YMCA’s Executive Director, says he’s confident the nonprofit will be able to raise the money:

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